Notes: Last week I wrote of a way that living in my city has changed me that I don't wish to take with me when I leave. I hope to leave behind the outsized impatience with other people that can sometimes consume me. But I think there are far more ways that living here has changed me for the better, and so many lessons that I want bring with me wherever I go.
I think of the power of the routine encounter with humanity that New Yorkers experience. On one hand, it is the source of the impatience that I wrote about last week. We are, after all, inevitably in one another's way. In another way, we are also here for each other in beautiful and unexpected moments. I have experienced more empathy from the people of my city than I previously knew existed in the world. I have also been called upon in moments to be there for people I had never met and would likely never ever see again.
We live our lives exposed, out in the open. We take turns being the one to cry on the train or break down on the street corner, praying that nobody will notice, but grateful when somebody does. Some wonderful ex-New Yorkers visited over the weekend. They said it was so great to be back because New York is the friendliest city in the world. Imagine that. I knew it was true as soon as they said it.
A day I'm thinking back on
I was crying on the train
And then a total stranger
Asked me if I was OK
Sometimes you can't avoid it
It's like your number's up that day
Maybe a close encounter
Is only a stop away
I see them lift each other
After they tear each other down
There's not a place to hide here
You live like theater in the round
'Cause though you can't avoid it
You've got a sense that that's OK
'Cause your next close encounter
Could be your chance to show the way